You can get a fair estimate of your percent body fat by doing the pinch test. The pinch test for women requires taking two measurements, the first one on the back of the upper arm and the second beside the navel. Here's the procedure to follow:
1. Locate the first skin-fold site on the back of the right upper arm (triceps area) midway between the shoulder and elbow. Let the arm hang loosely at the side.
2. Grasp a vertical fold of skin between the thumb and first finger. Pull the skin and fat away from the arm. Make sure the fold includes just skin and fat and no muscle.
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3. Use a ruler to measure the thickness of the skin to the nearest quarter of an inch. Be sure and measure the distance between the thumb and the finger. Sometimes the outer portion of the fold is thicker than the flesh grasped between the fingers. To avoid this, make sure the fold is level with the side of the thumb. Do not press the ruler against the skin. This will flatten it and make it appear thicker than it really is.
4. Record two separate measurements of the triceps skin-fold thick- ness, releasing the skin between each measure, and calculate the average of the two.
5. Locate the second skin-fold site, which is immediately adjacent to the right side of the navel.
6. Grasp a vertical fold of skin between the thumb and first finger and follow the same technique as previously described.
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7. Record two separate measurements of the abdominal skin-fold thickness and calculate the average of the two.
8. Add the average triceps skin-fold to the average abdominal skin- fold. This is your combined total.
9. Estimate the percentage of body fat and record it.
10. Determine fat loss at the end of 6 weeks by multiplying percentage of body fat times body weight for the before-and-after tests. For example, if a woman weighed 168 pounds with 28 percent body fat at the start of the program, that's 47.04 pounds of fat. If she completed the program at 150 pounds and 18 percent body fat, that's 27 pounds of fat. The difference between 47.04 and 27 is 20.04 pounds.
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11. Figure the amount of muscle gain by subtracting the weight loss from the fat loss. In the example above, where fat loss equaled 20.04 pounds and weight loss was 18 pounds, 2.04 pounds of muscle were gained.
More than 25 percent of the body weight of most Americans is composed of fat. An ideal amount of body fat for most men is 12 percent. The average young woman's ideal status is 18 percent. Lean, athletic men and women may desire to lower their ideal figures by another 5 or 6 percentage points.